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Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by c6h6o3, Jun 1, 2004.
Let's all be careful out there.
What's the truth? That the world is full of violent, reactionary pricks? There's a reason I act and talk nice and still carry a fistload. Not only is freedom of speech continually reduced by the Feds, but it is reduced in a practical sense by all the thick-skulled knuckle-draggers who would reverse the slope of your nose for voicing dissent.
Reminds me of the 60s when both the civil rights movement & the Vietnam war were violently divisive. Just as with the My Lai massacre, I can not understand why American troops are being put into situations where "friend or foe" decisions lead to the committing of atrocities. We are becoming again a nation polarized between those who still believe Bush to be honest & those who find deceit in governmental statements. Decent people are being cowered into silence by todays version of the Nazi storm troopers (my wife is afraid to sign petitions for fear of the FReepers). And if you think these are only random acts of violence, check out the internet hate sites which target people for abuse or worse.
"United we Stand"
This is BS, and I'll tell you why:
That's right, she's just here to make a buck off everyone's misfortunes in Abu Ghraib.
It isn't a right-wing/left-wing issue. It doesn't matter if you support the Iraq war or think it's loathsome. It's about someone clutching after public issues purely for the sake of profit.
She is a war profiteer, hiding behind the cloak of art (and now victimhood).
I have no problem with the gallery, the art work or the owner. But one of the problems we have today is that while everyone has the freedom and right to pretty much print or say what they want, those same people must recognize that they have to accept adverse reaction to material. If the material incites a riot and they get caught up in the middle, they should not be surprised if their nose gets broken. That is not to say the person breaking the nose is right because they are not. It is the same as a member of the Ku Klux Klan wearing a robe walking through the middle of a predominantely African American neighborhood and not expecting to be assaulted. He has the right, but shouldn't be surprised by the reaction he receives.
Reaction to images, editorials, movies or stories is not always rational. But on the other hand, I think anyone who produces controversial work expects and wants to get a reaction. In the case in point, the gallery owner due to the controversy will get far more individuals in to see the work. The art may or may not be garbage, but those viewers may see something else at the gallery they do like. The gallery has its name in the news, the artist gets pub. The price paid is going to be adverse reaction.
The ironic thing is that protest and reaction to art never has the desired effect. All the protests and controversy surrounding the movie "The Passion" only fueled interest and turned it into one of the biggest grossing movies of all times. I remember the art show in NY that contained the modern piece, "Piss Chirst" (hope that was the title). Most of the reaction took the art work completely out of context and articles in NY Times talked about how the numbers of visitors increased as the controversy grew.
Just an added note here. The person that owned the gallery and got punched in the face was a woman.
In my opinion, whatever you think of the "art", the act of punching a woman in the face is pretty brutal. I saw her face and it wasn't a slap. It takes a special person to walk in and punch a woman in the face.
I think protesting the "art" is appropriate is you feel the need, but physical violence to the person is criminal.
I agree that punching the gallery owner regardless of gender was a despicable, criminal act and was wrong. But I don't think the gallery owner should be so surprised at the reaction she has received over displaying art that invloves issues that are so devisive to the country. It doesn't matter if she is not taking a stand one way or another, by putting the art on display she is by default taking a side and making a statement.
Another case in point was the conservative Denver talk show host who was pretty far to the right and got murdered for his views. Not a proper reaction to someone elses views but I guess it comes with the territory.
In a perfect world, people who disagree might come in have a cup of tea, voice their displeasure but respect the gallery owner for displaying the art and the artist for creating it. But it ain't no perfect world. Yes getting punched in the face was very, very wrong, but on the other hand, if you get in the middle of such a volatile issue don't be surprised if someone does punch you in the face.
But... was it really art???? Remember the thread about the difference between taking *snapshots* and being a photo artist??? Why now, are these pictures suddenly given the lofty position as art?
I think she knew full well when she posed these as art that she would receive a violent reaction. It will be interesting to see who she sues over it!
I am a defender of free speech; I was part of the generation who fought hard for the right of 18-year olds to vote (only to see the ennui of the current bunch of recipients of this right). But I am also pretty leery of the anti-America types who will take the freedoms figuring that because the word starts with 'FREE' that they (the freedoms) come with no responsibility.
Help me out here - can you describe what exactly is an "anti-America type"? Is there a field guide one may purchase? I would just like to know how to spot one. Where do they nest? Where do they feed? Have any been bred in captivity? Do they have unique mating rituals? Do they really exist, or is this a new example of one of those Urban Legends?
First the image was not a photograph. It was a pastel painting of a concept not an actual event. It was political in nature. It is not less political than the ones painting during the French revolution. Like Jim has said, she and her gallery were noticed. The reaction was one that is indicative of the neighborhood she was in. North Beach is a mix of very low income and high income, huge Italian community, and one of the biggest tourist areas in SF. It is where Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 39 are located. You are going to have a influx of what is mostly middle America passing by. This was in the SF Chronicle today. http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/g/a/2004/06/01/asparks.DTL It gives you an idea of the kind of people who would have ben passing. Does it make it right that she was attacked? NO! But as Jim has said, she should not have been surprised by the reaction.
Did a search & only Denver radio host murdered was Alan Berg who was killed by a White Power/Aryan group. Not that the left has never resorted to violence, but most of political violence in America over last 20-30 years has been by American right-wingers.
Jim, I would think that anyone in this country should be able display controversial artwork and be surprised if it sparks violence. That is like saying I shouldn't be surprised when someone burns down my house when I write a critical letter to the editor about the current war. I would be surprised, and I have a right to expect to live in peace - even if my views are not popular with a large group in this country.
As far as accepting adverse reaction - the gallery owner should expect a negative reaction, but it should come in the form of lost sales, and not violence and property destruction. At most a peaceful protest against the artwork is called for.
jdef, from my reading of the posts on this thread i think the general consensus is condemnation of the attack and the reference to the KKK was an exaggerated example to make a point. There is no forgiveness for the attacker and no justification for what was done. I don't know exactly how strong the feelings over the whole Iraq thing run over in the US but the piece of art in question does sound contentious. Anyone displaying such a piece in a community where feelings are running high should expect a reaction, and i may be cynical but i suspect that was the reason for the display. It just went further than the gallery owner expected. In my opinion she was naive. I do not condone in any way what happened but a person does not automatically become blameless the moment they become a victim. I would not wak into a pub in Tottenham on a Saturday in April in a West Ham football Strip mouthing off at anyone in White. I have the freedom to and the right to, but i also have common sense.
Okay, I edited the gender in my post. Didn't change the sentiment a bit. I have zero respect for this person when they put such an image up and then claim to be devoid of politics. They would just as quickly be selling cattle prods and batons if they thought it would turn a better margin.
So a gallery owner should only display works that are non-controversial, or that they are willing to fight for? So should I assume that violence against gun stores should be tolerated in your world, because they are only there to make a buck, and some people disagree with their product?
What this article points up to me is that in general, all over the world, public sentiment is changing from one which embraces diversity, creativity, inclusion and personal liberty to one which is defensive, fearful, divisive and angry. This sea change in general attitude is only getting started in the US, and it's not limited by any means to the art world or to any particular place on the political spectrum. It seems like we've been smitten with a plague of global road rage affecting every facet of modern life. Awareness is our best defense against it.
bjorke, not to be argumentative, but...
Did you see the painting? How do you know it is war profiteering and or exploitive? As far as her being devoid of politics, she did say, "This isn't art-politics central here at all. I'm not here to make a stand. I never set out to be a crusader or a political activist." . I'm not sure that means that she is feigning innocence of the paintings message or that she is without any morals and would sell anything to turn a buck.
The argument that she should expect this kind of reaction is puzzling. Should Bush or his supporters expect physical attacks when they voice their opinions in downtown Detroit? DT Detroit is the toughest place I have ever been (and I have been up and down CA many times) and Bush is about as popular there as a pay toilet in a diarrhea ward, but neither he nor his supporters are attacked. How is it that she should expect this ?
Bottom line to me is that she is being intimidated to not display work she has every right to display. I dont care what her motives are or what the message is* or were it is located (even if it is the very tough SF area) it is wrong and no one should have to expect it.
This is the way dessent is addressed in this country now. The "you are either with us or against us" mentality is the all purpose filter to marginalize and of course if you do dessent you hate america.
*please dont use this as an opening to bring up child porn or some other irrelevant subject.
Would it not be nice (and balanced) if someone were to display artwork depicting the good as well, the sacrifices made by soldiers fighting against terrorist organisations, the changes in people's lives during pre- and post-regime change. For once I would love to have a thread started by something like that (or is it really all just bad soldiering on a mass scale, evil US politicians, etc.?). Perhaps these kind of subject matter is not provocative enough to sell. This reminds me or an art work installed sometime ago in Stockholm which in my mind paid homage to a woman suicide bomber in Israel (I cannot express my opinion of this "art" in a public forum like the internet - I will accept private emails on this issue, no problem). Art or PR ploy?
Jim, at no point did i say she 'had it coming' and i do not condone violence to express an opinion or to suppress others.
The people of this form are obviously educated and intelligent enough to express their views and listen to opposing argument without resorting to name calling or threats of violence which is great and as it should be. My point was trying to be this.
THE REAL WORLD IS NOT LIKE THAT.
It is a world where a person gets stabbed to death for not indicating at a roundabout. It is a world where a person gets burned alive in the street because someone else doesn't understand the difference between a muslim and a sheik (and probably wouldn't have cared anyway) and it is a world where a gallery owner can get smacked in the face because some small minded neanderthal troll didn't like a picture she chose to display. We like to think we have freedom to express ourselves and voice our opinions but we have to accept that other people think differently.
This is of course wrong but standing up to this mentality will occasionally earn you a smack in the mouth. You either roll with it or you keep your head down.
Sparks, you are right that the world is not the ideal place many(most) of us would like it to be. But that does not excuse any of the actions you listed. She should be able to display a politically divisive image without getting assaulted. Just because the world sucks doesn't mean we need to hide from it, or accept getting assaulted. Maybe she should have a shotgun in the gallery and use it defend herself - it seems to be a method her detractors understand.
Francesco, I agree that it would be nice to see all to good that has come out of the US occupation of Iraq. But a gallery owner is not required to provide a balanced display.
I think what it comes down to for me is that we should fight censorship, whether it is by the government, or a group of private thugs. Neither is excusable.
While violent attack should not be condoned, there are times when one should exercise certain degree of restraint and common sense. Displaying a potentially inflammatory art work on the window, IMO it is somewhat naive and/or demonstrates a totally unawareness of real life. While we all would like that there was no discrimination, no wars, etc, etc. That is not the way it is, and when we exercise our freedom we should do it with responsibility and many times try and foresee the possible repercussions.
While the guy who hit this woman should be taken out back an beaten the crap out him, in a way I understand what bjorke is talking about. If our supposed enlightened press can take an image out of context of a totality of work like Andres Serrano's "Christ in piss" and make totally dumb and untrue statements, what can we expect of those who are barely a few millionths of a percent above monkeys?
I guess I disagree with Jay and those who say the woman had no blame in this. Sure, she should not expect to be physically attacked, but then as the old an trite example of yelling fire in a crowded theater explains so well, freedom does have responsibilities and sometimes requires a little bit of sensitivity and awareness of society.
No one said She deserved to get smacked in the face. But she should have known the hanging of the picture, where everyone walking by would see it, would draw some response, negative and positive. She cannot be so naive, as to think it would not draw a reaction. The egg, the trash, the threats, all come about when you actively take a side. Posting this painting in the window sounds to me like she:
A)hoped the painting would draw a crowd to her gallery
B)was making a statement
C)Had no where else to hang a blatantly political piece except the window.
If one is going to spout free speech they must also accept those who have views different from there own. COmparing the right of the KKK to march and voice their opinion, and the hanging of art is perfectly legitimate. Both are forms of what makes this country so great. You can hang your photo and voice your opinion and no one can deny you that right as long as you are doing it in a peacable manner. The KKK have the right to express their views just as much as you have the right to express yours. They are guaranteed the right to march, just as much as the NAACP, AIM, Green Peace, or an anti war peace rally. You cannot pick and choose who you will allow the freedom to express themselves. You may not agree with what they say, or stand for but yes you have to support their right to say it. Voltaire was right.
The gallery owner should not have been hit. If the assailant yelled at her and voiced his revulsion of the picture, that would have been totally acceptable. He crossed the line. He had no right to hit her.
Just for the record. I am not a member of the KKK, and find their message offensive, but I do and always will support their right to voice their opinions. The right to publicly voice our opinions without the threat of censorship is a beautiful thing.
Those who would make good nazis are the ones who wish to stop others from offering their opinions or expressing their views, because they do not agree with them.
c6h6o3 wrote: " in general, all over the world, public sentiment is changing from one which embraces diversity, creativity, inclusion and personal liberty to one which is defensive, fearful, divisive and angry."
would that it were true that world sentiment embraced such positive elements as diversity, creativity, inclusion and personal liberty now, or ever. those have always been ideals sadly lacking in reality. those wonderful folks who made the 20th century such a delight with world war, genocide, racism and sadistic oppression on a monumental scale cannot be dismissed or forgotten. such viciousness persists with virulence and myopic singlemindedness. we (in the U.S.) must count ourselves extraordinarily lucky to live in a country as enlightened as it is despite the fact that for the present and the future it is a certainty that horrible behavior will continue to occur here as it does elsewhere. let's hope that it remains, as i think it does, only the province of a pathetic minority and never the general public will.
A painting of US soldiers torturing prisoners - how many other interpretations can there be of that? Surely there can be no positive interpretation of it, vis a vis the US military and their presence in Iraq. The KKK's intentions are certainly more obvious but are not those of subtle intentions perhaps more dangerous, more thought provoking, more easily excused? Is it art because it is a painting? This is a question I struggle very hard to answer. Sometimes people hide behind art, or hide behind lofty moralisations rather than to actively participate and get dirty. I hope the person who attacked the owner gets caught and gets to do time. I hope something for the "artist" as well...